tv [untitled] September 14, 2010 3:30pm-4:00pm PST
completely repackaged street. it didn't come easy. we work with planning department, we worked with merchants associations, we worked with neighborhood organizations, we do everything we can to do the outreach that is required by planning. in this particular case, i was asked to go up to laurel heights to do this particular outreach package because it was so sensitive and what they needed was a small business advocate who understood the street, and paid attention to what the merchants had to say. so i'm happy to say that i conducted the report up there and it's took me two months. i talked to 100 business owners and by the way, these are interviews. i do not use petitions, fliers, email blasts or anything else. these are full-on interviews and sometimes they take a half an hour, sometimes longer. what i come away with is an economic port rat thor in real time as toldy to me about the merchants whose survival depends
on adapting. i can tell you that the merchant neighborhood has been universally supportive of this because it does become a retail anchor for them in their neighborhood and i can tell you that economic portraiture of this neighborhood is no different than union street. this neighborhood has said it needed a retail anchor and every neighborhood does need one. i do know that. you can ask me. it's my job. this particular retail anchor provides everything from a laurel hotel to pet services for customers next door to a wide spread of diversity for the neighborhood as far as their pet population. the only thing i can tell you about this neighborhood is that they were [bell president chiu: are there any other members of the public that wish to speak on behalf of the sponsor?
seeing none, i'd like to invite back the appellant for a rebuttal of up to three minutes. >> members of the boar, my name is peter weaver and i am the owner of elm connection 2 on washington street and i've been in business for 26 years and a fourth generation san franciscan. mr. levy should check his facts. just to clarify, mr. weiss' first store was a san francisco location which opened in 1995. he opened his berkeley shop in 1998. yes, they opened their first store in san francisco, but then proceeded to grow their business in suburban locations where their concept is more appropriate. so that needs to be clarified, what is san francisco. i could give more arguments for the rebuttal, but i believe each member of the board has been
educated and lobbied well. therefore, i will show you the counter arguments. the question to be addressed is where does san francisco proceed from here in maintaining uniqueness, vibrancy and neighborhoods. we are here to preserve the fiber and fabric of the city, not only within our own industry, but for the other small businesses that characterize san francisco. where i believe the planning commission erred, it seems to me that the board should adhere to the preservation for small business to exist and prot perin this great city of ours. in closing, all we ask is that the board joininous doing the right thing. thank you. president chiu: colleagues, does anyone have any final questions to any of the representatives of either the appellant, project
sponse. supervisor alioto-pier? supervisor alioto-pier: thank you very much, supervisor chiu. president chiu: at this time, this hearing has been held and conducted. item no. 37 is now closed and items number 38, 39 and 40 are before us and in the hands of the board. supervisor alioto-pier? supervisor alioto-pier: these issues get to be complex and controversial. you may remember when pet food express came before the planning commission a while back on the lumbard street property which was defeated at planning. part of the reason it was defeated at planning was because the neighborhood really came out in force against it. the neighborhood organizations came out against that particular project, the merchant organizations on chestnut street and on union street came out against that project and there
was a lot of -- there was a lot of push-back as a result of it. let me first say that i'd like to thank susan landry, bobby weiss, who owns george, which is a fabulous boutique. it is, for anyone with a dog, you want to walk in there. it is a beautiful little shop with a lot of beautiful little things, and pamela hable. they have been working tirelessly, i think, to save their pet shops and there certainly is a very -- it is extremely laudable. i'd also like to thank the newly formed coalition of pet stores save the neighborhood pet shops and i think that we need to look at this issue perhaps a little more vigorously. it was discussed earlier that we have larger chains that are coming in closer to some of our neighborhood commercial districts and that's something that we should be thinking about and discussing and perhaps passing legislation to try and fix so that our neighborhood stores are not as directly impacted by some of the larger big box stores.
perhaps we have limits on the size that a new pet store can be within a certain amount of feet or blocks from neighborhood commercial districts, or some kind of guideline, but right now we really don't. right now we're looking at a conditional use. the question before us is whether or not it is necessary, whether or not it is desirable. so i'd like to talk about those two issues and how they impact specifically this california street property and the communities surrounding it, because they are very, very different than the communities surrounding the lumbard street debate that took place and we really cannot compare the two. to begin, and it was mentioned earlier, when we talk about necessary, i think it is important to note that the smaller pet shops do focus primarily on dogs and cats and when you are living from a neighborhood like ours, pacific heights, persidio heights, fillmore area, laurel fill
village, laurel heights, there's a high density population of families. we have a lot of children. when we have children, we have other types of animals like rabbits, hamsters, snakes, guinea pigs. we could go on and on and right now the closest stores to get food supplies and other types of supplies for those types of animals, anything other than a cat or a dog, you have to go across town. i want to bring this up because it is one of the major complaints that i have received as the district 2 supervisor from my own constituents, that there are places to go for cat food and dog food and for cat and dog paraphernalia but not really for the other types of animals and that is a very important, i think, point, that we need to take into account here. another thing that i'd like to mention is that in most cases,
and it was mentioned earlier, but in most cases, pet food express' biggest competitors are -- and i've heard this also from people in the community through conversations we've had, but people who go to safe way, buy their food product at safe way, which is the vast majority when they're buying the really, really big bags of dog food. when they go grocery shopping, they pick up their pet food and that seems to be something i hear a lot from people writing in discussing this project. discussing specifically desirability, well, for this project, there is a clear outpouring from this very community that this is a project that they want. it was mentioned earlier that on sacramento street itself, which is the neighborhood small business neighborhood corridor, there were 73 shops that said that this is a project that they really wanted.
there were -- i have 15, 16 shops that were undecided, didn't really care one way or the other, and then there were only about nine or 10 shops that said, no, this is not something that we want. so when you have that kind of disparity and 74 of your small businesses coming to you saying the economy is awful, we need something to help us, we need to strengthen our own small businesses, because we're not just talking about small businesses, small pet shops, we're talking about an array of different small businesses and what certain types of anchor tenants can bring to a community can be beneficial and when you look at areas like sacramento street, there really aren't any. if you walk down chestnut and union, you'll see stores like apple and gap and other types of businesses like that. you won't see that down the sacramento dorcor. you will see it in laurel village but it doesn't have the
direct impact as the location right here for pet food express so we have the support here in this particular case of the sacramento street merchants association, which is the merchant street corridor most affected, we have a letter of support from the laurel village association, the second largest merchants association in the surrounding community. we also have a letter of support from the greater geary boulevard merchants and property owners which is significantly further away, but it's still a support of local small businesses for this particular project on california street and i'll say why that's significant is because it is on -- this particular property is essentially on california street and persidio so if you're taking persidio, you're going to take that straight through to the geary street corner so it's a place where people from district 2 will drive, they'll probably go down persidio if they're going to the geary street corridor so i think that's probably where the nexus is. we have a letter of support from
the san francisco spca. they have support from pets are wonderful support, paws, pets unlimited which is right around the corner from the poa, because of the work they've done with the canine unit. we have, from different surveys, pet camp on sacramento street is in favor of it. cheers community center is in favor of the project. we have a letter of support from dave burnett who is the owner of molly stone's market. molly stone's market is probably going to be pet food express' biggest competitor. it is the closest and largest grocery market to this particular location. and we also have letter of support from a mr. barry leonard who was one of pet food express' original competitors who started a business called critters, fritters, pet food and supplies. his letter is very interesting. i liked the comment about, you know, about competition that was made here. and it's the exact same argument
that mr. leonard makes, is that you might not always like the competition that you're forced to compete with, but it's always good. and competition will lower prices and competition will bring more supplies to any designated area and i do believe that in our communities this is a need that they have for the other types of animals, more specifically, other than specifically cats and dogs. and so i honestly have -- i will be supporting this project. as the district 2 supervisor, frankly, i think it is the responsible and the right thing to do because the neighborhood has -- has come out so much in favor. i should also say that they also have the direct support and i spoke to the president of san, the persidio heights neighborhood association, so not only do they have the support or the project has the support of the surrounding merchant groups,
but it also has the support of the surrounding neighborhood groups and i do think as a lot of us know as supervisors, sometimes there's not always that nexus, sometimes our merchant occasions and groups don't always agree with the neighbors who live in the surrounding community in this particular instance, they do. and so for those reasons i will be supporting pet food express. i will be making a motion, i'd like to make the motion to approve 38 and table 39 and 40 and colleagues, i would like you to take the surrounding community into mind when you're making your decision and your vote. and i would like to remind you that the decision that we're making here is based on necessity and desirability and without question both of those two qualifications, i think, are met to a very high threshold on this particular project. president chiu: supervisor alioto-pier, it appears, made a motion to affirm the issuance of the conditional use with the
approval of items 38 and tabling of items 39 and 40. is there a second or a motion? seconded by supervisor elsbernd. any discussion? supervisor. supervisor campos: campos thank you, mr. president. i thank all the members of the public and interested parties who have spoken and to the planning department for their presentation. i think this is a unique appeal and i think in a regular appeal for me, hearing directly from the impacted neighborhood has a great impact and is in many respects it determines the outcome. i think, though, that there is a different analysis that is involved here because we're talking about the impact that this business would have not only in the very small geographic neighborhood area, but i think in the larger vicinity and larger city. and i think that that analysis
necessarily requires that we look at what other people outside the neighborhood, outside the specific geographic area that's impacted directly, what they're saying and while i appreciate the many people in this neighborhood have come out in support of this project, i think that a number of very legitimate concerns have been raised. let me say that this is not to take anything away from pet food express. the fact that they're a company that started in san francisco, that has gone on to be very successful is something that we should be proud of, but this is not about that issue. this is about whether or not this makes sense in light of the concerns that have been identified. i also think that, while we commend and should commend what pet food express is doing in terms of its philanthropy throughout the community, that that itself does not or should
not decide how this -- this issue is resolved. as much as pet food express has done in terms of its giving back to the community, i think that the same thing can be said and would be said about a -- about many of the small pet shop owners who are here in this room, and, in fact, if you look at what they give back in terms of percentage of revenue and of the amount of money that they take in, my sense would be that places like bernal beast in laurel heights and others, best in show in the castro, that they would be up there in terms of the commitment to the community. to me, the issue of how committed a business is something that cuts in a love different ways on this issue -- a lot of different ways on this issue. i believe that the analysis that planning department engaged in
is analysis that in many respects makes sense but it's one that has too narrow a perspective on the impacts of this project. it is for that reason that i will respectfully be voting against supervisor alioto-pier's motion. i don't think that it's the right move for san francisco, and i think that it opens a door not only respect to other pet stores, but with respect to formula retail in other ways that i don't think it's where we want to go. and the last thing they would say, and, you know, i'm very -- i recognize theaverg pet food express has done, but as an attorney, i would say that there was a little bit of overreaching in the presentation. i think it's one thing to come here and say that there is no negative impact on small pet shop owners. i can understand that, i can
understand that argument, but i think it really goes too far when you actually come here and say that these small shops are actually going to benefit. i just don't think that the record shows that. i think there was a little bit of overreaching in that comment. i think that people can disagree on whether or not there's a negative impact and i will respectfully submit that there is, but i think that that statement went a little bit too far for me. thank you. president chiu: colleagues, any additional discussion before a vote? supervisor dufty. supervisor dufty: i just want to say that this has been a complicated appeal because i do feel that the preponderance of neighborhood testimony is in support. i am also concerned about the saturation of pet food express and how many more this city can absorb and i don't feel that right now that there are the tools to look and understand those issues, and i do think, going forward, it's something
that we need to understand, not just what a neighborhood is comfortable with, but also what are the implications for the diversity of small businesses. so i am wrestling a bit with this one, but i do recognize that from the testimony and the letters, i do feel that there is neighborhood support for this applicant. president chiu: supervisor. supervisor carmen chu: . supervisor carmen chu: supervisor carmen chu: thank you, president chiu. i want to say, thank you to the many individuals who did come out today, in particular, a lot of the small businesses who i do know it is difficult to take the time to do that and also for meeting with me in advance. in looking at this one, it was interesting and i think that what really swayed me at the end of the day was a couple of things about whether or not there would be a benefit, a public benefit, of having a pet food express open up at this particular site. one of the issues that was compelling to me was the fact that we did have an empty store front that poses a problem for
many neighborhoods. in my neighborhood, i know we have a number of different store fronts that are empty and have been for a very long time. the second, as supervisor alioto-pier had mentioned, simply the ability for residents of the neighborhood to be able to frequent a location that they would be able to purchase a variety of products from, not just dog food or cat food, but for a number of different types of pets. i think that's an important consideration. and finally, understanding the level of charity work that pet food express has provided to our local charities in san francisco, i think, is also an important factor in considering what is necessary, what is desirable in san francisco. so i will be supporting supervisor alioto-pier's motion. president chiu: colleagues, any additional discussion? if we could take a roll call vote on supervisor alioto-pier's motion to affirm this cu. supervisor alioto-pier: aye
president chiu? president chiu: no. supervisor daly,. supervisor daly: daly, no. supervisor dufty? duftyy aye, ebles, aye, mar, no, maxwell, maxwell aye, mirkarimi, mirkarimi no. there are five aye's and six nos. president chiu: so that motion failed. colleagues, are there any other motion. my understanding is if someone wants to make a motion to reverse that we take a vote on that and if that fails, the cu is affirmed. so, is there a motion to reverse the certification? supervisor elsbernd. supervisor elsbernd: i make a motion to table items 38, 39 and 40. president chiu: supervisor elsbernd has made a motion to table all these items.
seconded by supervisor alioto-pier. colleagues, any discussion? do we need to take a roll call vote on that? do that without objection? okay. so if we could, we will be tabling this -- all three of these items. and being again, for members of the public, that means that by default the conditional use will stand. with that, why don't we proceed to the other items that we have today. i'd like to go to our 3:30 commendations. i understand we have a centenarian in our midsts that supervisor alioto-pier would like to recognize. supervisor alioto-pier.
if i could ask members of the public if you could please quietly exit the chamber, because we still do have a lot of items today. and supervisor alioto-pier, if you want to make your suspension. supervisor alioto-pier: thank you, supervisor chiu. colleagues, today i am glad to be joined by caesar kiazi, who, on september 19, will be celebrating his 100th birthday.
happy birthday. [applause] supervisor alioto-pier: mr. kiazi was born on september 19, 1910, in italy. and he and his family immigrated to brooklyn, new york, when he was 12. he and his family thereafter moved to san francisco where they operated the san francisco opera company. at the age of 32, he was drafted into the u.s. army where he served as an infantryman and was awarded the bronze star with v, with v for valor. he worked at the san francisco opera company and retired in 1969 as the costume director. mr. kiazi has lived in north beach, russian hill, the marina and continues to live in pacific
heights. i'd like to take this opportunity to commend mr. kiazi for reaching the milestone of 100 years and wishing you a very happy birthday. [applause] >> i wish to thank all of you that are here this afternoon. i certainly am honored. and i really have no words at this time. i wish to thank all of you for being here. thank you, again. [applause]
supervisor mar: supervisor mirkarimi is my cohort on this one. a little later i'll ask for your support in proclaiming today, on behalf of this incredible journalist. i wanted to first say that reese ehrlich is one of the rare progressive journalists in the city, in the bay area. he's an award-winning journalist whose books like "the iran agenda," "dateline havana," and a recent one released today, "conversations with terrorists," which are coming out today, are incredible books. about 25 years ago i was the editor of my student newspaper at uc davis, one of the student activist papers and i always looked up to reese and other activist journalists for their commitment to the first amendment but also making our communities better, as well. and reese was one of my teachers
as well as a journalist. and as a radio journalist at kpo and kpfa in san francisco and the bay area, i was appreciative of his efforts to reach out beyond the print medium to radio and even tv documentary on prison labor, as well. that was know an award-winning piece that me did. so reese ehrlich began his career as a reporter. he's not 100 years old, but he's been a journalist for 42 years or more and back in 1968, he was a staff writer with "ramparts" magazine and now works full-time as a freelance journalist and contributes articles to not just the "san francisco chronicle" but 15 other newspapers including the "new york times" and "chicago tribune." i love his jazz radio casts, as well. he's won numerous journalism
awards including sharing a peabody award for documenting the history of asian americans. and also he's been honored twice by sonoma state project, for writing two of the most censored stories. i whispered that reese was one of the organizers of ban the draft week. >> stop the draft week. supervisor mar: stop the draft week in 1957 and a notorious member of the oakland seven in their effort to fight the against the war. he's filed investigative reports that expose the reality of the u.s. policy in the middle east. reese exhits